Ever wondered exactly why protein is such an important macronutrient to include in your diet?
Well, here is the short (ish) answer:
Proteins are formed by multiple amino acids that are linked together by peptide bonds.
You may have heard of amino acids being referred to as the ‘building blocks of life’?
Well, there is a good reason for this! Not only do amino acids act as an important energy source, they also form the structure and foundation of all the cells in your body, especially your muscle cells.
There are 21 amino acids in the body, 9 of these cannot be synthesised by the body and need to be gained through your diet. For more details about amino acids, checkout "BCAA's 101."
Not all protein sources are equal, however, so it is important to understand the difference so you can ensure you are getting the most from your diet and supplements.
Understanding your protein
Dietary proteins fall into two main groups:
Complete Proteins - These contain all 9 of the essential amino acids needed in the diet.
- Red meat
- Soy products
Incomplete Proteins - These contain some of the 9 essential amino acids needed in the diet.
By combining 2 or more incomplete protein sources together, you can ensure you are getting all 9 essential amino acids needed.
Getting The Most From Your Supplements
If you are an athlete, bodybuilder or simply someone that exercises on a regular basis, you might find you need a little extra protein kick to help your muscles recover after a big workout. This is why many people opt for protein supplements.
For more information about how protein fuels your workouts read "How protein fuels recovery and performance."
A few tips you should keep in mind when using protein supplements include:
- Research the different protein supplements available to ensure you pick one that is most suitable for you and your needs.
- Make sure you read the ingredients. Some supplements contain added sugar and flavourings which may add unwanted calories to your diet.
- Protein shakes are most beneficial directly after a workout, to ensure you have the fuel needed to rebuild and repair your muscle cells.
- Don’t overdo it! There is such thing as too much of a good thing. Overloading on protein in your diet can place unnecessary strain on your kidneys, so always follow the recommended servings.
Find out more about the pro's and some of the con's associated with protein supplementation, "The pro's and con's of protein supplements."